Tuesday, November 15, 2005

 

The Most Recent Concert Report

Damn, that's a dumb post title.

Good friend Chris J. and myself wandered on over to Grand Rapid's own Deltaplex (home of more gun shows than any other arena in W. Michigan) to catch Audioslave last week.

The only opening band was Seether, a group I had previously figured to be yet another mediocre post-nu-metal outfit. Not only are they exactly that, but they're also overly self-indulgent as well, spending well over an hour going through a bunch of milquetoast mid-tempo numbers. The lead singer's vocal style is best described as someone who's trying to sound like someone else who's trying to sound like Kurt Cobain. The low point is when the band briefly touched on an Audioslave riff; that's a serious opening-band no-no.

Rageslave or Audiogarden or whatever came out and played through something like a half-dozen songs from their new album. I was not impressed. Then Chris Cornell stated that the band wanted to play an instrumental, and he walked off the stage as a picture of a big red star was projected on the backdrop. That distinctive swirling sound arose from Morello's guitar, and then the band crashed into "Bulls On Parade". It felt like things were right again with the world. Cornell re-appeared and did "Sleep Now In The Fire" justice; he proved to be just as effective of a shouter as Zack de la Rocha.

After that, we got some vintage Soundgarden in the form of "Spoonman", where bassist Tim C. filled in the spoken verses. He looked terrible amused with himself, and for good reason. Cornell mis-spoke and stated that the next song was off "the same album", which "Rusty Cage" most certainly is no. That song was released when much of the crowd was barely in kindergarten. After that was a really weird version of "Slaves And Bulldozers", with Cornell delivering the lyrics as one would expect, but the rest of the band was playing as if they were backing a lounge singer. Somewhat amusing, but still odd.

Then there was a new Audioslave song, which sounded far better than anything from Out Of Exile.

A couple more songs brought us to the encore, which was performed mostly by Cornell and his acoustic guitar. He started with a great solo version of "Black Hole Sun", although to be honest I would have liked to hear Morello do the pyschodelic breakdown bridge. Next was an acoustic version of "Fell On Black Days", and then Cornell started off "I Am The Highway" by himself and was joined by the band for the last run through the chorus.

The show ended with Rage's "Killing In The Name Of..." in which Cornell once again performed superbly, and then my favorite two Audioslave songs, "Show Me How To Live" (which was introduced as "a gospel song, of sorts") and "Cochise".

I though that Audioslave's first album was just a bit of a disappointment for such an accomplished group of musicians, but I figured that maybe things would gel for the next album. Out Of Exile, then, was hugely underwhelming when it came out, and seeing the songs performed live does not change my opinion much. The contrast that the classic RATM and Soundgarden songs provided really drove this home. I do hope that the next album provides a chance for this group to perform up to its true capabilities, or else they might be in danger of becoming a glorified cover band.

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